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Call immigrants 'bicultural', not allochtoon, says CU

Saturday 08 May 2010

The word allochtoon, used in the Netherlands to describe people of non-western origin, is negative and should be replaced by 'bi-cultural citizen', according to a new policy document drawn up by the orthodox Christian party ChristenUnie.

'The word allochtoon is associated with negativity by many people. The world bicultural is softer and should be used instead,' ChristenUnie MP Cynthia Ortega-Martijn, who drew up the document, is quoted as saying by the Volkskrant.

According to the Van Dale dictionary, allochtoon means migrant, foreigner or alien. However, the word is mainly used to describe non-western immigrants and their children. The third generation of Turkish and Moroccan immigrants are still known as allochtoon despite being born and brought up in Holland.

There have been several efforts to eradicate the word, which has a negative ring for many. Last year, the Labour party attempted to introduce the term 'new Netherlander' to describe immigrants.

What do you think about the word allochtoon? Take part in our poll

© DutchNews.nl


Readers' Comments

This name story is funny when you consider that the only Dutch word that made it to many other languages was "apartheid".

Go go Dutch politicians! The world is craving for your culture!

By Young Expat | 8 May 2010 5:19 PM

and this is christian party? give me a break

By Lars | 8 May 2010 6:08 PM

It's a good idea in theory but trying to replace a bad word with a milder one will never work in practice. One cannot regulate the language and unfortunately "allochtoon" is too deeprooted in the social consciousness. There needs to be a shift in attitudes before we can talk of bettering the social discourse.

By stingo | 8 May 2010 10:45 PM

There are more Dutch-origin words in other languages, too. Mainly connected with water engineering, measurements, navigation and - cheeses.

By Maria Miszczak | 9 May 2010 8:18 AM

This is absolutely ridicules. People are aware that we are now censoring dictionaries? We are practically censoring books! I wonder what will come first, the dystopia of Fahrenheit 451, 1984 or A Brave New World. So far it seems to be a nice mix of all three.

By Mr. W | 9 May 2010 8:30 AM

@Young Expat: check your facts, "apartheid" is definitely not the only dutch word in foreign languages.

(BUt I get what you're trying to say)

By old expat | 9 May 2010 12:58 PM

But why try to find a new word with the same meaning? Isn't the whole concept of separation the problem? Typically Dutch, let us make the Zwarte Piet multicoloured

By expat | 10 May 2010 8:17 AM

Following this with regards to 'allochtoon', it would make Singapore a multicultural city-state where I am from (also previously an immigrant of) full of aliens.

But thank you Holland, it's nice to be recognized as 'bicultural', an adjective instead of a 'noun', but as least i'm international.

By ex-allochtoon, present-bicultural | 10 May 2010 10:40 AM

"apartheid" is an Afrikaans word.

By pepe | 10 May 2010 11:47 AM

Didn't allochtoon come into use as a replacement for something else that had come to have a negative connotation?

It seems crazy to think that changing the word will automatically change the attitude.

By Louise | 10 May 2010 12:33 PM

@ Louise - I donĀ“t think anyone is suggesting that changing the word will change attitudes, at least not in the short term. If however it makes people aware that the word in question is offensive to non-white Dutch, then it may make some more considerate to others with whom they breath the same air.

By Deep Throat | 10 May 2010 1:25 PM

This phenomenon is common in all languages by the way. Due to semantic change, words can get a negative meaning, called a pejorative. The same occurs in English.

By pepe | 10 May 2010 1:28 PM

I'm not sure why we have to have a separate word or label for describing our immigrants. I think America - a nation of immigrants - allows the new comers to define themselves, i.e., African-American, German-American, Irish-Americans, etc. until eventually that even disappears and everyone is just plain American. The Dutch have this strange need to label everything. Maybe we should start referring to the Dutch as Indigenous Natives.

By Buzzer | 10 May 2010 4:14 PM

So what exactly am I known as now? I'm a so-called Western and not Muslim so I can't be an allochtone...but I also moved here for my Dutch husband, not my career, so I can't be an expat?

Oh right, we don't exist...therefore there IS no word. :/

By CW | 10 May 2010 8:28 PM

If a word has dreadful negative connotations then get rid of it! Ban the use of the offensive word, don't replace it with another. The Dutch-rooted "N" word is no longer acceptable because it was offensive and still remains so, no replacement word was ever made for it. Homosexuality was relabelled as "Gay" and all the negativity was just transferred onto what was in my youth a joyous word, one can no longer say one had a gay time.
Replacing one word with another, keeps the sentiments in play, getting rid of a word eventually gets rid of the sentiments as one finds it more difficult to express oneself fully when the word that encapsulates a thousand emotions is missing.
If one must use a word to replace "allochtonen" then follow the Homosexuals great idea, and use the word "gezellig".

By jaycee | 11 May 2010 8:25 AM

@Jaycee, the "N"-word isn't Dutch rooted. It has it roots in Latin. Since Dutch is a German language it can't be a Dutch-rooted word.

By pepe | 11 May 2010 10:04 AM

According to this CBS definition, the term "allochtoon" applies to the entire Dutch royal family.

This word "allochtoon" gets thrown around a lot but does anyone actually know what it means?

By flr | 3 June 2010 12:07 PM

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